Last night, in Cheslea’s Gagosian gallery, Raf Simons came to America. It's his first time showing his namesake line stateside, and just a little over a week before his debut Calvin Klein show, he focused his attentions on the city of New York.
The collection was inspired by feelings and perceptions of a kid's first experiences in Simons’ newly adopted city. It looked to items you notice in your earliest, and perhaps hopefully naïve, New York tourist moments. 'I love New York' plastic bags were lifted onto oversized, black, white and red Merino knits. Structured, outsized satin coats took on the feel of a Times Square maître d’s waistcoat given a boxier, darker edge. Simple black hoodies reading 'blow' on one sleeve (this one may be for an older visitor) were layered under oversized knits, worn off the shoulder, reading 'I <3 you'. Packing tape - with the words 'Walk with me', 'Youth Project', and again, 'I <3 you' - was wrapped around the waist in place of belts. Beaded chain chokers appeared on almost every boy. Boxy, ultra-large 1940’s workwear-style suiting came in muted brown and viridian green.
Simons’ offering felt joyous – save a few details. That hoodie reading 'blow', long sleeve t-shirts saying 'Any way out of this', and the opening track - Roxy Music’s In Every Dream Home a Heartache - kept us grounded in the weight of a city that may have cleaned itself up over time, but is nevertheless fundamentally rough. Because let’s be honest, New York has never been an easy nor a particularly light place to call home. And right now, it’s a space in the midst of a battle against a government and a culture that some four months ago, we New Yorkers doubted even existed.
Simons’ collection is about perception and surface readings. It’s also about getting to know a city over time. How we rebel. How we subvert it in classic and less obvious ways. Come fall, some very privileged men will be wearing these offerings among our cold, loud, protesting home.